We’re back with our Wheyhey fitness coach, James, and the second part of the best leg exercises you should be doing.
If you’ve given Part 1 a go, you know this is no mean feat! Get practising these two Squat variations to add to your workout. There are multiple versions of the typical squat movement, which will all help to build lower body strength, so let’s get going!
Split Front Squat
The split squat is a great exercise to target the Vastus Medialis (the part of the Quadriceps that sits inside the leg closest to the knee), often referred to as the ‘tear drop’. Underdevelopment of this muscle has been shown to be a predisposing factor associated with anterior knee pain and poor joint alignment. Therefore performing a split squat can reduce chances of knee injuries occurring or help to rehabilitate the knee joint from an existing injury. The version I like to use is the front squat position as it further stresses the Quadriceps and reinforces a good upright torso position.
To perform a split front squat:
1. Begin by holding a Barbell in front rack position with the bar resting on the front of the shoulders
2. Make sure you keep the elbows up and a loose grip with your fingers on the bar. If you find the Olympic style front rack position difficult to achieve you can cross your arms over on top of the bar.
3. Place one foot on a bench behind you and one foot in front in a lunge style position
4. Drop down so that the front leg bends to around 90 degrees
5. Push through your glutes and quads and return back to a standing position
6. Repeat for both legs
This exercise requires a lot of flexibility, strength and balance. The pistol squat involves performing a single leg squat dropping all the way down below parallel. Performing a unilateral movement (one limb at a time) will benefit those looking to eradicate muscular imbalances or strength or balance issues in the weaker leg. Beginners may find they will need to develop the strength to perform a squat on one leg, whereas more experienced trainees may find that they struggle with the flexibility in the hip flexors or the range of movement in the ankle to achieve a full pistol squat. Therefore whether you are a beginner or and advanced lifter the pistol squat will help to improve your lower body development.
Here’s how to perform a Pistol Squat:
1. Stand on one leg and raise the other off of the floor
2. Extend the free leg out in front of you and have your arms out in front of you as a counter balance
3. Quickly drop into a deep squat on one leg and aim to ‘bounce’ out of the bottom to stand up quickly
4. If you try to squat too slow you will get stuck at the bottom!
If you lack the strength or flexibility to do this you can make the exercise a little easier in order to build up to a full pistol. Here’s how:
1. Stand on a slanted platform and let one leg hang off of the edge
2. Hold on to something for balance and a bit of weight support
3. Perform a pistol holding a TRX (again for balance and weight support)
We’ve got some workout programmes coming too, so keep your eyes peeled!